Why we need British Columbians to become financially literate


In this week’s Macleans magazine, Jason Kirby talks about the myth that Canadians are cautious, prudent and play it safe when it involves their own money. To make his point, he describes how Canadians are piling on debt by taking on large mortgages at record low interest rates as the housing market heats up again.

But its not just mortgage debt that is the problem. The Credit Counselling Society of BC helps people resolve their debt woes.  Over the past two years, it has seen more people asking for help carrying more consumer debt than before.  Five years ago, it was common to see consumer debt loads of $40,000 for example. This year the Society is counselling people who are carrying debt loads over $200,000.
*Two surveys released this week confirm some troubling trends in BC: consumer confidence is on the rise in BC at the same time that 65% of British Columbians say that they are concerned about their current debt level. 

What’s going on here? We thought we were smarter than the Americans were. Not so, it seems. Which is why we need people to understand a fundamental principle:  If you don’t have enough money to buy something, don’t buy it!

Last year, we partnered with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to produce an on-line, interactive program that helps people learn how to handle their finances and avoid financial problems in the future. It is called The City. It has eleven modules covering everything from doing a lifestyle reality check to preparing a financial plan.

We need people of all ages to go to The City and learn how to avoid making costly mistakes – like falling deep in debt, choosing poor investments or even getting involved in financial frauds.

*RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index is based on an online survey of 1,018 Canadians conducted by Ipsos Reid between December 8 and December 11.  The Conference Board survey was based on 3,000 telephone interviews conducted between January 7 and 24.

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